Back in 1838 when Zdeno Chara was cutting his teeth with the Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American League, Charles Dickens wrote a book called Oliver Twist, who is not to be confused with Tony Twist, who came along about 150 years later and accumulated more than $3 million in career earnings for his unique ability to punch people in the face. In the book, a character named Mr. Bumble is told that the law supposes that his wife acts under his direction. To which he responds, “If the law supposes that, the law is a ass – a idiot.”
Dickens, of course, is not around to opine about matters involving the NHL. But if he were, he’d have likely looked at what happened Sunday afternoon in the game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets and come to the conclusion that, “the NHL rulebook is a ass – a idiot.”
And he’d be absolutely right. In fact, the blown non-offside video review call in Carolina’s 6-5 win over Columbus should be viewed as every bit an egregious flaw in the system as the Matt Duchene offside goal eight years that led to all this nonsense in the first place. When the league went to video review for offside calls after that monumental error, it did so because it wanted to ultimately get the calls right. Fine. But in the situation that arose Sunday afternoon, it got the call completely wrong. Everyone from Gary Bettman to Joonas Korpisalo knows it, but nobody can do anything about it.
And in a truncated season in which we’ll be lucky if each teams actually plays 56 games, who knows what effect that one call will have on the Blue Jackets’ playoff fortunes? If the Blue Jackets finish a point out of the playoffs this season, they won’t exactly have a case for seceding from the NHL, but they should be plenty peeved that the league could not get this right.
This, of course, is contingent upon one thinking that it’s OK to call back goals because a player was a skate lace offside on the zone entry, that ultimately had little to do with the goal being scored. But that’s what we have in the NHL now. And if your goal is to get the call right, then by all means make sure you have the rules in place to do just that.
So here’s what went down. With 1:32 remaining in the second period of a 3-3 tie, Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton gained the Columbus zone and took a shot on Korpisalo. A full 17 seconds later, Vincent Trocheck scored on a Brett Pesce rebound to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead. Columbus challenged the call, saying Trocheck was offside on the entry. After video review, the call on the ice stood – good goal for Carolina and a delay-of-game penalty to Columbus.
Now comes the problem. As the league explained it, there was a miscommunication involving the video replay booth in Columbus, linesmen Tyson Baker and Jonny Murray and the league’s situation room that prevented all angles of the preview to be seen before play started again. The league, to its credit, owned up to the snafu and informed the Blue Jackets after the period had ended. It also rescinded the final 45 seconds of the penalty.
But, of course, the damage had already been done. The league did not take the goal away from Carolina because it didn’t have the power to do that. And had Carolina scored another goal on the power play before the end of the second, that one would have counted as well. That’s because the rulebook is very clear on this. Rule 37.2, which covers goal review procedures, clearly states: “Any potential goal requiring video review must be reviewed prior to and/or during the next stoppage in play. No goal may be awarded (or disallowed) as the result of a video review once the puck has been dropped and play has resumed.”
All right, then. So let’s assume the NHL didn’t see something like this coming when the NHL came up with its video review protocol. Fair enough. But after seeing what happened in Columbus, and given the entire reason video review exists in the first place is to get the call right, the league has to make an amendment to the rulebook to cover situations like this and prevent them from ever happening again. Because as Columbus winger Patrik Laine said after the game, “That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen.”
There is no reason in this day and age that a team should get screwed out of a valuable point in the standings because of the rulebook’s assery.